Black Petals Issue #80, Summer, 2017

Mars-News, Views and Commentary
Andrew's War-Fiction by Roy Dorman
Down at the Hardware Store-Fiction by Roy Dorman
Excision-Fiction by Paul Strickland
Rise-Fiction by Mike Mulvihill
Surviving Montezuma, Chapters 9 & 10-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
The Bugbear in the Darksome Chamber-Fiction by Charles C. Cole
The Critter in the Tin-Fiction By K. B. Updike Jr.
Bondegezu, Tree Kangaroo and 3 other poems by Richard Stevenson

Summer, 2017



By A.M. Stickel

Something for the younger set



Dan Graffeo sent me a signed, dated copy of his second-in-a-series book for young adults, HALLOWEEN NIGHT FEVER—DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES. It is published by Aventine Press, 55 East Emerson Street, Chula Vista, California. Since I received the book just before my editorial was due for the 7.15.17 online publication of BP #80, I decided to delay writing this until I’d given the book a thorough read. And it was a fun one.

I’m not sure why Dan, who teaches at a Community College, is still having problems with his verb tenses. Perhaps he thinks that his audience is uncomfortable with “would” instead of “will” and “might” instead of “may” and “pet” instead of “petted,” where the latter terms are clearly correct. Nevertheless, he does a good job with his super-heroic, undercover teens who turn into the town of Sleepy Owl’s ghost-and-ghoul patrol only on Halloween night when a portal opens up between the normal world and the shadowy one beyond. Because of the characters’ pragmatism, scariness is not a big factor (some friendly monsters), as much as are training, tools (like holy water and garlic), teamwork, and bravery.

The leader of these Monster Cops (aka the Pniese) is one Bill Swifburg, a freshman student enrolled in a culinary arts major, who pays his way at the University of Connecticut by working at a greasy spoon part time. Poor Bill has little time for rest or food. I liked the way Dan handled Bill’s hectic schedule, with its split responsibilities at home (family interruptions), school (oblivious roommate, demanding professors), and warding off netherworld nemeses, like an elf vigilante, truly evil pirate ghosts, and murderous mermen.

Other characters include a nerdy, motor-mouthed high school freshman, who puts up the fight of her life, even though she’s a klutz. In fact, the fight scenes of the embattled teens and their eerie foes are vividly detailed, and all the senses—even the extrasensory ones—are fully engaged. It helps that several key adults, possibly former Pniese, are allied with the youngsters and equally responsible for keeping their town’s secret. The inclusive group are successors to ancient Native American supernatural warriors, thus their odd name.

In this series, one does not have to be a certain race or even have their eyesight to be a town hero dealing with supernatural threats. The goal is not to destroy netherworld enemies, merely arrest them and turn them over to their realm’s authorities. It’s too bad realism-loving adults are too jaded to benefit and apply the wisdom and discipline displayed in such tales, whether or not the grammar is perfect. I am looking forward to Dan’s next book. The ISBN # is 978-1-59330-925-1 ($12.95 U.S.). The author earns 2.5/5 black roses. Happy and peaceful summer, readers!

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